Montalcino is a town of 5,150 inhabitants built on a hill dominating the Ombrone and Asso Valleys. It is situated in the artistic and cultural park of the Orcia Valley. Its surface area of 243 km2 makes it one of the towns in central Italy which covers the widest area.
Occupied by the Etruscans and the Romans, in 1260 Montalcino fell into the hands of the rulers of Siena. Its fortress, a beautiful example of 14th century military architecture, was the refuge for the government members of the Republic of Siena when the town was taken by Charles Quint in 1555. The historic centre of Montalcino reveals its rich and tumultuous past. Built in the 12th century on the ruins of a church which is said to have been founded by Charlemagne in the 8th century, the Sant'Atimo abbey lies in an area of hillside planted with vines and cypress trees. Its Romanesque church is one of the most beautiful in Tuscany.
Along with the production of cooked meats, cheese, olive oil and honey, there is also the excellent "Brunello", one of the best red wines in Italy and famed the world over. Montalcino is a member of the association "Borghi pił belli d'Italia" and has been awarded the "Paesi Bandiera Arancione" seal of approval.
In view of the diversification of its tourism, the municipality of Montalcino has followed an ISO 14001 certification procedure throughout its territory by means of an inventory of its natural and cultural resources and its landscapes. This project has a double objective: to ensure the dynamic protection and management of the town's environment and provide an added value to the local produce.
Since 1998, the research laboratory of the Historic Agronomy Study Centre has developed a number of activities which aim to safeguard rural traditions on both a municipal and a European level. This centre plans to become the national and European centre for the coordination and the promotion of quality agro-tourism.